When google decided to create their own web browser a year ago, I was both sceptical and annoyed. Did the world really need another web browser? Couldn’t they just put that effort into Firefox? What I hadn’t realized at the time was that Google was about to push the boundaries of what a web application is, and their is no way they could pull that off without some control of the browser.
The pundits have largely been missing the point. While browser as operating system has been a concept since the late 90s (which was skillfully retarded by Microsoft by bundling a web browser that could never support that level of complexity), things are different now. Over the last 5 years google has been slowly rolling out a set of applications, free to use, that already moved a lot of people fully to the web. It’s hard to find someone without a gmail account at this point, and most of them are using it as their primary and only email. Google docs is really nice, and I found that far more useful to collaborate on all my interactions with the outside world than the old “email a word doc” model.
I get that a lot of people fear the cloud, and point to Microsoft’s fiasco with with Danger as a reason to distrust the cloud. But Google isn’t Microsoft. And more importantly, you know what happened before, people lost data. Never in the history of computing up until the Danger computers crashed did people loose irreplaceable data on a computer. Much like the fear of flying overwhelming people in a way that the much great risk of driving to the local store to get Milk doesn’t. People with just the wrong amount of knowledge make very odd risk assessments.
The thing I’m most thrilled about is that Chrome OS is going to help us keep an open web, as least based on everything I’ve seen now. It’s Linux, and the entire stack is going to be open. That means it’s not going to support all the rich internet application alternatives being pushed by Microsoft and others. Chrome OS is going to drive a lot more open standards on the web than any set of committee meetings ever would. And that’s good for all us, regardless on whether or not we’re using Chrome OS to access the web.